Two years ago, Mammoth resident Donna Richards learned about a little-known need in Mono and Inyo Counties. “I met [Wild Iris Director] Susi Bains at my Reiki Studio,” she recalled; “we were talking, and she told me how there was no domestic violence shelter in Inyo or Mono Counties.”
Bains’ revelation sparked Richards’ imagination, and two years later, Richards succeeded in bringing together the first annual “Gimme Shelter Carnival” to raise funds for a domestic violence shelter.
The fundraising event will run from July 10-20 on the grounds of the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa in Mammoth, featuring traditional carnival rides, booths, games, food, local music, raffle prizes, and more.
Gimme Shelter aims to raise $60,000 for Wild Iris. The money will go toward securing a long-term safe haven shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, as well as much needed services such as counseling, life skills, and job training.
“I think nobody wants to talk about domestic violence,” Richards said. But, she added, when she met Bains in 2012, Wild Iris had received 226 domestic violence-related hotline calls, provided 121 bed nights to victims of domestic violence and their children, and helped 42 families establish new homes when displaced due to domestic violence.
During Fiscal Year 2012-2013, according to Wild Iris Crisis Counselor Shelby Cook, 558 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault sought help through Wild Iris in both Inyo and Mono Counties.
Currently, the closest domestic violence shelters are in Carson City and Ridgecrest. Wild Iris offers temporary, emergency-only shelter for women and their children for one or two nights.
“We have no longer-term options for women in Inyo and Mono,” Cook said. “That’s why this is so important.”
“I’ve had a rough life myself, and I’d like to turn my pain into power and do something better for people,” Richards said. “I want to make a difference.”
Although she spearheaded the Gimme Shelter Carnival alone, Richards said the process has been surprisingly easy, given the outpouring of support from local businesses.
One example of that support is the raffle prize, which includes a Wave Rave snowboard, Community Skis custom pair of skis, Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa two-night stay, Resort Spa massage, and a Mammoth Mountain Ski Area season pass.
“I can truly say that this event is being created because of pure love,” Richards said. Given the backing she has received, “It’s been one of the easiest things I’ve done in my life.”
Richards will be selling Carnival and raffle tickets at Vons beginning Friday afternoon.
Pre-sale Carnival tickets are $20 for 8-10 rides; tickets at the door are $25. All-day wristbands are $30, and raffle tickets are $25.
Pre-sale tickets are also available at Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa, Community Skis and Tail Waggers.
Those interested can donate to the Gimme Shelter Carnival through the Wild Iris website devoted to the event (http://wild-iris.org/gimme-shelter-carnival/).